Saturday, 28 June 2008

Busy weekend

All sorts of events going on this weekend.
Yesterday, the British Legion held a Veterans' Day - a party for any ex-serviceman or woman in the area. It seemed to be very well attended.
Kilvert's has chosen this weekend to launch their new menu - an interesting selection of fish dishes, when I looked at the sign.
There's a garage sale at George House, by the Cinema Bookshop.
And there's jousting over the river at Clyro. People keep asking me if I'm involved (my wierd hobby of historical re-enactment being fairly well known) but it's not a group I've ever seen in action. They've been to Clyro before, though, several times, so I should think they must put on a good show.

The market square is taken up today with the Food Fair, in a big marquee.
They've got several local breweries, whisky and cider on sale, as well as goat's cheese and goat sausages (this stall was Islay's favourite - lucky I remembered to bring her lead), wild boar bacon, chocolates, apple juice, bread, jams, honey and chutneys, herb plants and lots more. There were several fast food stalls (Celia's oriental stall was Islay's second favourite - people had dropped bits), and Llanfaes ice cream.
As well as the food, there was a stall selling items made out of recycled bottles, including marvellous stained glass designs, and the Brecknock Wildlife Trust was there too.
And as if that wasn't enough, there was entertainment. I saw a couple in evening dress playing an accordian and a fiddle, a male voice choir in smart maroon blazers (probably Talgarth, I think) and the Brecon Town Concert Band, who were all very good.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Mystery Parcel

I got a parcel a couple of days ago. I wasn't expecting one, so it was a nice surprise to think that someone had sent something to me.
The address wasn't quite right - there was no number, and the street name was the one where I used to live. The surname was right, but the initial was wrong. The postmen know me, though, so they'd guessed that the parcel was meant for me.
It contained sheep's ear tags.
Which was a bit of a disappointment.
Someone out there was obviously waiting for those ear tags, though, so this morning I took the parcel down to Hay and Brecon Farmers. They'd be sure to know of any local person with a need for sheep ear tags.
As I produced the parcel, the face of the chap behind the counter lit up with recognition. "Those are meant for us!" he said.
As I left, he was instructing one of his colleagues to phone the person who'd made the order.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Keeping the Paths Clear

There's a footpath that runs down a tunnel beside Jones' Hardware, round the back of the beast market, and down to the Loggin waterfall. It's a nice little shortcut back into town if you've been walking down the riverside path, as I was the other day. That is, it's a nice little shortcut if you have your machete with you - it's a narrow path, and it gets overgrown very quickly. One day earlier this year, the cow parsley was chest deep, and I picked a huge bunch of the stuff just to be able to get through (and very nice it looked in my big jug, too).
The other day, it wasn't quite so difficult to get through.
About half way along the path, I met Benji's people (Benji is a sheepdog cross, and one of Islay's friends). Colin had brought his garden shears with him, and he was chopping at the nettles at the side of the path.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Midsummer Madness

I felt quite sorry for the organisers of this event yesterday - the weather was intermittently rainy and grey and blustery, not the right sort of weather for a summer fete at all.
They started off, on the field that's used for the Festival, with a car boot sale, followed by fun and games from mid-day. I heard some of it, from a distance. They had advertised It's A Knockout, and I could hear someone on the tannoy saying things like "You're supposed to take the plank with you! No, right hand! Where's the sack?" and so on. I think apple bobbing was involved, too. In the evening, they had a hog roast and live music, that cost £7 on the gate (£5 in advance).
It was all in aid of Bronllys Hospital, Llanigon Village Hall, and Welsh Air Ambulance, so I hope they did do well.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Licensing the Globe

The big meeting in Brecon was on Tuesday. I didn't go - I was at work - but I met Brian today, who went down for it. He said there were a lot of people there, and the hearing went on for about five hours - they started at 11am and didn't get out until about 4pm. He said that there were 64 letters opposing the late night license, some of them, he felt, quite eloquent. However, the license was passed eventually, though it's somewhat different from the original full license that was applied for. I don't know the details of that yet, but I did notice last night that the A boards outside the Globe have been changed. Up until Tuesday, they were opening from 11am to 5pm. Now the hours are 11am to 11pm.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Buddhists in Hay?

I was walking down Newport Street when I saw David waving a bolt of bright orange cloth around.
"Don't tell me - you're about to become a Buddhist monk," I said.
"No - it's a Buddhist hang-glider," he said. "Well, actually, it's a screen...."
Pity - for a moment I could just see a Buddhist hang-glider launching off the top of Hay Bluff.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Front Page News!

There's a big photo on the front page of this week's B&R, showing Julie and Peter the Mayor at the Fairtrade party, when Julie handed over the certificate.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Visitor at the Launderette

The last time I went to the launderette, I was rather glad Islay lagged behind me on the way up the hill. Huddled in a corner by the big washing machines was a fledgeling jackdaw. Islay + thing with feathers usually = very dead bird, very quickly. Before she ambled in, though, I was able to scoop the young jackdaw up. It was young enough and daft enough not to be too scared of me, so it only flapped about a bit, and was quite easy to handle. With Islay looking on with interest, I went outside and put it through the railings of the chapel graveyard next door, which is elevated rather higher than Islay's nose. It hopped away into the undergrowth.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008


A fire engine came up through town this afternoon, lights flashing, sirens wailing. It was followed shortly after by another, and other sirens could be heard from other directions.
Someone said that there was a fire on Oxford Road.
I went up after work to have a look.
Four fire engines attended the fire in the end, and an ambulance, and several police cars. Oxford Road was closed to traffic for several hours. It was the biggest fire in Hay since the Three Tuns burned down. Oxford Cottage, the B&B, has lost its roof almost entirely. When I got there, there were firemen in the elevated platform, knocking slates off the roof to expose the blackened beams underneath - and if that's what the roof is like, the inside must be pretty bad too. The fire engine had all its wheels off the ground, and was being held up by hydraulic legs - it looked pretty impressive. As far as I know, no-one was hurt, which is a good thing at least.
When I got back to Broad Street, one of the fire engines was parked there - the firemen were all getting fish and chips.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Good Deed for the Day

The other week, several people did good turns for me of one sort or another. Today it was my turn to be a Good Samaritan.

Yesterday, someone phoned up the bookshop where I work to ask if he'd left his jumper there. We had a good search, but couldn't find it. And then, on my way home in the evening, I saw it in Castle Street, outside Lucinda's hairdressers. Someone had hung it up on the drain pipe, so I could see the logo on the front of it.
This morning, I rummaged in the rubbish bin to find the note with the chap's phone number on it, and he's delighted! He's coming in tomorrow to pick it up, all the way from West Wales. We would have posted it to him, but he wanted to visit the bookshops again anyway, and this gave him a good excuse.

This evening I was walking home when I passed a lady who lives on Carlsgate. She was standing at her front gate, looking terribly worried. "Can you help me? I've got an emergency!"
Of course, I went in with her.
She has just been given a new computer, a laptop, and has had one lesson on it so far - some of which was taken up with learning how to open the lid. She hadn't even realised that there was a difference between turning the computer on, and being on-line. Earlier this evening, her son phoned her from his holiday in France, and asked her to look up the weather forecast for where he was staying. This was completely beyond her, and she was dreading him phoning back!
So I found the information for her, and then I sat her down and made her do it again for herself. She's written copious notes, so she can find Google again for herself when she needs to.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Fairtrade Party

I'm sitting here sipping a glass of rather good lager, left over from last night's party - and I'm not usually a lager drinker. This is from the Rhymney Brewery, though, who do rather good real ale, so I'm trying to suppress my prejudices.
Manu was just as good a musician as Ruth had claimed - and it wasn't just drumming. He sang and had guitar accompaniment as well. He had most of us bouncing up and down for the last song, even the mayor, who stayed all evening and looked as if he was thoroughly enjoying himself, after the presentation of the certificate showing that Hay now has Fairtrade status. Jo made the speech, which managed to be funny and make serious points about helping poor traders in other parts of the world at the same time, and Julie made the presentation.
There was also a short film from Jump4Timbuktu, showing scenes from a recent visit to Timbuktu and talking about trade, not aid. They also had a stall in the hall, selling silver jewellery, including the Tuareg cross, which is traditionally given to a son by his father, and symbolises the four corners of the world, with the well of Timbuktu at the centre. It's meant to help with doubts and confusions.
Julia was there with her Fairtrade bags, too, and we had a stall with Fairtrade nibbles, in the absence of Oxfam, who had said they would come, but pulled out at the last minute. The wine and juice at the bar was all Fairtrade,and the beer was local Rhymney Brewery bitter, Dark, and lager.
Everyone who came seemed to enjoy themselves.

The next thing we're doing is the School Fete, where we'll have a stall, and we'll be launching the new Hay Directory of Fairtrade goods and businesses. That's on Friday 27th June.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Fairtrade! Yay for Hay!

Well, it's official - Hay has been granted Fairtrade status! The Council have had a letter, and the Fairtrade committee have a certificate to present to the Mayor. Just as well we were planning a party anyway!
So we're all running round like mad things now, making the final preparations - picking up the booze and the bunting, the fairy lights and the balloons. There'll be short films: "I've got six minutes about bananas!" Jo announced; world music (well, African mainly - I took along my tapes of Jewish kletzmer music, and Iroquois chanting, just to see if they'd be any good, but Jo deemed them not appropriate.); stalls selling Fairtrade goods, and Manu and his drumming - so we have to set up a stage tomorrow as well as an area for people to watch the films. The mayor will be there, to accept the certificate on behalf of the town - and this is the new mayor, Peter Lloyd, who was the deputy mayor until Gareth went off to become our county councillor. (I saw Gareth the other day, striding across the road in his chip shop apron, with a box of Rice Krispies under one arm and his mobile phone clamped to his ear. Wish I'd had a camera!).
We open the doors of the Parish Hall at 7.30pm on Saturday 14th (that's tomorrow), and everyone in Hay is invited.

The celebrations have been somewhat marred by a disagreement about a picture to go in the new Directory of Fairtrade businesses and organisations in Hay - a disagreement which our chair felt so strongly about that she decided to resign from the committee. It's a shame, especially now, just at the moment of success for Hay, but it's her decision and she won't be swayed from it.
Without her hard work, of course, we wouldn't be where we are today at all - she kept the whole thing going, and was very committed, so the achievement of Fairtrade status is really due, in a large part, to her.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Too darn hot.....

It is too hot to sit at a computer.
I'm heading for the garden with a good book and a glass of white wine.

I did see a pair of red kites soaring over Belmont Road on my way home this evening.

Friday, 6 June 2008

I Love Living in a Community!

Last night, I was walking Islay when we met a lady with her two dogs, who are Islay's friends. We got talking, and she happened to notice the green tights I was wearing (the ones I got to go to the Fairy Party earlier this year). She said she had a few pairs similar to them going begging, and would I like them? I was very pleased to accept (I'm fairly hard on tights - they don't last too long when I'm wearing them), and she was glad to get rid of them.
This morning, I was having breakfast with the door open when a neighbour came round to lend me a book. "I was up until 1am reading this," he said, "and I thought it was right up your street!" It's Hannibal, the Novel, by Ross Leckie, and we have had some interesting discussions about Greek and Roman history before, so he was right to think I'd be interested.
A little later, another neighbour was passing. "I've got three pots of mint that I don't want. Would you like one?"
So he came up a little later on, with the pot in his little wheelbarrow, and I now have another pot outside my front window, with a different sort of mint, strawberries, a purple cow parsley called Raven's Wing, and a basket of cyclamen and ivy leaved toadflax.
As I was going up Belmont Road to work, another friend pulled over in her car. "Are you doing the short story competition?" she asked.
I said I wasn't - because the theme is Deception "and I'm not really a decieving type of person."
She chuckled. "That would make a good first line," she said. "And if you win, remember to give me the kudos!"

All this in one evening and morning - I love Hay!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

"Do Deformed Rabbit, it's my Favourite"

That's what it felt like, anyway, as I began to learn crochet at the Stitch n Bitch meeting this evening!
For those that don't know, the title is a quotation from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, and refers to the old game of making shadows on the wall in the shape of animals.
So, there's my hand, doing 'deformed rabbit' with the wool between my fingers, and there's the crochet hook in my other hand, and before I know it, I'm doing a chain, and then a circle, and then a double stitch and finally a triple stitch. I'm very proud of myself! I've even dug out an old anthology of 1970s crafts that has crochet ideas in it (though I don't think I'll be trying the bikini!)

Meanwhile, it seems to have been a day of small accidents. I nearly walked out under a car on the way to work, the computer at work wasn't co-operating, and at lunch-time I was walking down Belmont Road when a John Jones lorry was coming up. There's been a steady stream of John Jones lorries taking soil away from the Millbank/Underhill's site on Broad Street, and this one was doing it's best to squeeze past a Council van parked just outside the Council Chambers while the men did some work on the road.
There was a loud crunch. I thought the lorry had gone into the wall of the house - but it managed to inch through the gap very slowly, revealing what had actually gone crunch. The weight of the wheel had cracked a manhole cover into pieces on the pavement.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Back to what passes for Normal in Hay

The Circus was almost all gone this morning when I walked Islay across the river.
The stalls are nearly all down in the Castle Gardens, and it seems a lot quieter in the streets.

Some good news - before she went home, my sister saw the two swans, with a couple of cygnets, so they managed to salvage something even though the nest was lost.

I've heard a couple of people grumbling about Derek Addyman - he was quoted in the Telegraph being somewhat critical of the Festival, though it is true that the move to the field on the edge of town means that it's more difficult for the Festival goers to wander round town between events. The girl organising the Castle Gardens was much more critical, and no-one seems to be moaning about her.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Acting as 'Native Guide'

My sister and her husband came up for the weekend, with my almost three year old nephew, so I took them round town to see the sights. We went round the town in the morning, and up to the Castle Grounds, where James was very enthusiastic about a bouncy castle type thing called the Lost Temple, which had a slide. And he could jump up and down.
There was a chap there raising money for multiple sclerosis sufferers by raffling a 'bedbug'. This is a little trailer he's designed to be towed behind even a small car or a motorcycle trike, which is basically the size of a double bed. His son runs the company that makes them, and he spends his time doing charity work to help the Hereford unit where he gets treatment. His website is at [edited: this will teach me to try posting after a couple of glasses of wine!]
On the way down Castle Street, I saw Big Neil selling strawberries and asparagus from a table squashed into a gap between two shops. He was complaining about the Globe - he said he'd had to go out a couple of times late at night (after 2am) to people being noisy on the way past his house after they'd just come out of the Globe - and he'd nearly decked a couple of them because they were so obnoxious.
On Broad Street, about half a dozen kit cars came past, all together - there must have been a rally somewhere locally.
Later we went down to Bridge Street, where they were serving strawberries and cream in the garden. James enjoyed the slide and swing belonging to the family - but the little girl obviously didn't want strangers in her garden at all, and really didn't want to share her slide and her swing. She sat at the top of the slide with a face like thunder.
In the afternoon, we went down to the Festival site for a mooch around. On the way, James got a fireman's hat from the fire station - they were raising money for the Fire Fighters charity. We all enjoyed looking round the exhibitions. Peter stopped at the Woodland Trust stall to talk about planting trees - he's got about four dozen oak saplings that he's going to plant out in a wood local to him, as he's friendly with the Forestry chap there. We saw Claire Short bustling down one of the walkways, and Korky Paul in the Festival bookshop signing books, and several people carrying long stemmed white roses (which are presented to every speaker at the end of a session) who we didn't recognise at all.
Everywhere was really busy by this time, at the Festival site and in town, so we turned up early for the Three Tuns for dinner. "We've never disappointed anyone yet," said the manager, when we went down to ask about booking a table - all the restaurant tables were booked up weeks ago, of course, and downstairs it's first come, first served - which suited us as James was getting pretty tired by dinner time.
"What do you fancy?" Julie asked Peter.
"It doesn't matter with this menu - I know it's all going to be good."
So one had lamb, and one had beef, and I had the vegetarian tagliatelli, and James had a plate and knife and fork of his own, and bits from everyone.
And Islay had the fatty bits we took home.

Today, I was working, so my sister and family went over to the Circus - only to find that they were in the middle of their last performance. They did get to see some fire jugglers practicing, though. And they came into the shop to have a look round and ask me where the Warren was. That's the big open space, where the river curves round and there's a pebbly beach - a good place for picnics and dog walking and paddling.
They liked the camp site. It's Peter Like's field, registered with the Caravan Club, and he gives the money he raises from it to local charities. I think they'll stay there again when they come down to see me, as Peter Like was so obliging to them.

It was quiet around town by this evening - everything over for another year.